What I meant by ‘post-punk’?


My book is called ‘Post-punk perception’ for a reason; it is punk only because my family belong to the lower-middle social class, and I come from a single parent family. The subtitle ‘Living in the social milieu’ is about how my upbringing had influenced me before and after I encounter philosophy (East and West), religion and Aristotle ethics.

My book is not a biography nor is it a scholarly work on ethics and philosophy. However, where friendship is concern I am no longer influenced by the punks. The punks I was with while growing up as a teenager aren’t the kind that the West experienced that involves the idea of anarchy. I was a punk in the sense that I was brash, a little hooligan-ish and unpolished. When your English is not good and is laced with hokkien and Singlish, you will be perceived as, well, punks, by the English-speaking community. My English language ability has come a long way since, though there is room for improvement.

‘Post-punk’ will then be, for me, a person that is aware of his past and is constantly becoming to be a person aiming at virtuous living and towards a flourishing form of life (eudaimonia). ‘Living in the social milieu’ will then be utilising Aristotle friendship and ethics as the approach to life in society. ‘Post-punk’ describes a part of me but it is not an absolute part of me. For a person with the psychology of a cup half filled with water, it can be good or bad when someone describes himself as ‘post-punk’. Good because the ‘punk’ in him is now a part of his history; and bad because he could still return to his roots since a leopard does not change its spots.

The fact is life is as it is – we learn and progress with knowledge since it is the only good and ignorance the only evil. Virtuous living is not impossible, it needs to have an understanding of the kind of relationships in the social milieu. Before virtuous living can happen, life needs to be aware of itself. It is with awareness that we are able to make a conscious choice and strive towards a flourishing form of life. It is with awareness that we are able to recognise the different types of Aristotelian friendship (perfect, utility and sense pleasure). It is with awareness that we are able to perceive each relationship as a cup half-empty or half-full so that we can improve or maintain the relationship to be as amicable as possible. Relationship need not become perfect friendship but I am sure everyone agrees that it has to be genuine and sincere. It is the friendship of sense pleasure that allows everyone to be merry in the company of another. It is the utility friendship that allows smooth operation of work in the workplace. It is utilitarian because at the workplace such friendship serves a further end and at the end of the day the ultimate end is uselessness. Even if it is in the form of mutual benefit, it can still be a friendly exchange of interpersonal interactions as long as we do not take each other’s emotions for granted. Thus relationship can be simple though not necessarily enjoyable when everyone gets uptight about each other’s idiosyncrasies.

Gardens by the bay

Hence post-punk perception is simply a perception that is being altered by the virtuous cycle of contemplation and beliefs that make me happy – virtuous living. It is reflecting on life and the code of conduct that defines my behaviour. It is this virtuous cycle that allows contemplation to pursue a flourishing form of life that will engage the city and the people living in it. It is this virtuous cycle that allows eudaimonia in the social milieu. Most importantly, it is living in the social milieu that gives the city its character, charm and towards a flourishing form of life.

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